Victor Mazin Theoretician, art critic and curator. Specialist in theoretical psychoanalyses. Founder of Sigmund Freud Dream Museum in St-Petersburg. Lives in St-Petersburg. Olesya Turkina Critic and curator. Member of the MAM Editorial Board. Lives in St-Petersburg
SUMMARISED IN ST.PETERSBURG
1. We are living in a situation of transition, of a vanished habitual order and strictly hierarchic cosmos which is being replaced by a situation that still has no name; for it is not just that one ideology loses ground to another, and one visual field or economic system is succeeded by its antipodes, but that a whole entity is giving way to a multitude of various phenomena. This multitude manifests itself as a result of the disintegration of horizontal territorial space and the acquisition of the temporal freedom to use different ideological and visual systems of heterogeneous chronological areas. Thus the present state of things cannot – in contrast with the past – be described in the structural terms of rigid temporal stabilization.
2. This situation can, however, be described in terms of somnambulism, a state in which only the old brain of MacLean's reptile and topographic regression make it possible for an individual to evade danger. At the same time, the succession of discursive orders in the course of the highest and most revolutionary – that is the least smooth – amplitudes is established by the chaotic mixing of fashions/codes (which coexist in rigidly stratified conditions when development is slow), prescribing ultra-short-term economic, aesthetic and so on, sanctions.
3. Resymbolisation permits the simultaneous vision of various stars, crosses and swastikas, so that the change of code realising itself in this country leads to the preservation of a stable psycho-pathological system when the basic concepts of existence are equipollently changed. Any dispatch to another semiotic order takes place with an equivalent change of emptied systematic taxones. Thus, the changing substances (linguistic deformations) do not upset their own parameters of the dichotic matrix of the functioning cerebral hemispheres.
4. Nevertheless, sometimes (and rather frequently, as in this case), the frequency of transition becomes disrupted, and there emerges a chaotic discursive formation of the second agraphic, which is connected with articulatory problems, order characterised by the following specific features: (a) an uncontrolled mixture of different linguistic paradigms which mutually destroy each other on losing transparency; (b) the attempt to insert an unknown and arbitrarily interpreted (in terms of the hermeneutic circle) ideomaterial into the permanently existing units of conscience. In fact, this phenomenon relates first of all to the concepts of the formation of a critical discourse.
5. The visible state of the post-Soviet order can be described not in terms of structural concepts when rigid stabilisation takes place in a definite time-span, but – owing to permanent temporal deformations – as the concept of multistaged temporal fracture, the stage of development of an extremely complex psycho-pathological situation characterised primarily by submergence into the depths of distress, depression and psychological confusion. And this directly corresponds to the development of creative processes, the therapeutic nature of which can, however, remain unrealised, though the unexpected and maddening abundance of products of the sphere of visual consumption cannot be rejected as well.
6. The described situation of multiple geochronological fracture forms the self-deleting constellations which organize life according to the principles of unpredictable and unprognosticatory compositions (despite the emergence of thousands of prophets, shamans, parapsychologists etc.), which allow us to speak about life as an art, about the definite and constantly changing landscape and about a texture within the fracture. Therefore, it is not surprising that life is considered more avant-garde and stronger than art in the programme of rewriting modernity (Jean-Francois Lyotard) which on the whole finds itself in the shadow of life; politicians and economists, maybe for the first time in the history of this country, forced out writers, not to mention artists, from its axiological hierarchy. The degree of variety and unpredictability in life is much higher than in art, and, perhaps more importantly, in life (if we distinguish it from art) the process of denomination and coding takes place faster than in art. That is, life in fact takes upon itself the function of art, thus realising the call of Lyotard: 'Away from the cultural ghetto!'
7. The visual sphere, that is the breach in the invisible, and the texture of the visualised contours and colours along with other systems of signs constitute a deformed and unreadable rebus. The sign-bearers of the language become converted in the rebus paradigm into actively interacting components of an open figurative sphere where the additional elements deprive the preassigned notions of their collective authorship which reflects the specific nature of geopolitical situation.
8. It is rather difficult to find the place of art among the rapidly changing urban toponomics, exchange rates, political and religious beliefs. On the one hand it has lost the Eden it had owned in the society of distribution, the Eden where no 'real value' could have existed at all. On the other hand, despite the functioning of the new economic model in society, art and culture in general have not so far approached the process of valorisation typical of a 'society of consumption'. The hypothetical equality at the face of the product of consumption applies exclusively to food and clothing.
9 The fact that art does not represent a real object of 'buying and selling' has a mixed effect on the sphere of aesthetic production in a society where the process of consumption has stunned the citizens with its novelty and scale. The history of St Petersburg has continuously been under the spell of its maladjustment to life. The alienation of art and life, of art and the audience and of art and the artist is conducive to the cultivation of a certain freedom of the 'artistic will'. It is true that the existing situation is far from realising the romantic myth of such a freedom. But in order to survive in conditions of the total absence of developed native industry and infrastructure in the sphere of visual redistribution, the artist, gallery-owner and art-dealer must avoid total submergence in the general context of contemporary art and its 'discourse'. Everybody needs some super-open structure of preconception, and probably a belief in the 'proto-language' and his own language of 'confused articulation' so appreciated by the Russian poets from Alexander Pushkin to Velemir Khlebnikov.
10. Proceeding from all this, the 'advantages' of the artist Sergey Bugaev (whose pseudonym is 'Afrika') can consist in his, to a certain degree, minimum articism expressing itself in the fact that from the context of the economy of art/life he extracts 'prefabricated' fragments of the life's body and represents its code, the code of life itself, the texture of collective memory.
11. Nevertheless, while creating rebuses we observe just the opposite process, for the rebus encodes nothing, or to be more precise, decodes the collage, the fragments of narratives, the separate molecules but not the compounds, so to speak. The rebus is a prejudice in its own way, or according to Yury Lotman, a text with a missing code.
12. In absolutely different forms, the method of collage is one of the most typical of the aesthetic orientation of St Petersburg: as far as the last decade is concerned, it can be illustrated by the following examples: Timur Novikov, proceeding from Kuleshov's theory of the cinema, created the theory of recomposition in painting; the artist Vadim Ovchinnikov constructs collages of ethno-music; Oleg Kovalov collaged two feature films creating them from the scraps of movies from the 1920s and 1930s; Igor Verichev developed the concept of versification of information in music, which opened the way for a smooth seizure of the artistic scene by 'Acid House' music; Vladimir Tamrazov created a Video-collage after Dziga Vertov; Afrika rearranges the montages of Rodchenko and Klutsis; Igor Riatov collages para-computer compositions of his photographs, toys and other rubbish. This list could be made much longer.
13. Let us return for the time being to the rebus. In the process of reading, in the attempt at understanding the rebus, there emerges a free assembling of words into context due to the dissociation of the code, and consequently the process of comprehension. This is how the rebus works – by the principle of contiguity and not of analogy. This situation is complicated, but maybe at the same time becomes easier owing to the systematic game of renomination (for example, Petersburg, Petrograd, Leningrad, St Petersburg.) Bearing in mind such a type of aphasia, we can say that the rebus is a metonymy. But taking into consideration the fact that the rebus demonstrates the process of renomination it can also be called methanomy.
14. Dissociation under the influence of ideological, social and economic factors results in the formation of an individual language. The transition of the language, the capture of morphological units and their re-formation, turn out to be nothing but the formation of a new language. Such a renovation and capitalisation of the language usually produces confusion, fear and subsequently various aphasic disorders.
15. One more phenomenon occurring in conditions of the fractural order consists of the reduplication and 'copying' of the process of dissociation in various spheres of human vital activity, particularly in the aesthetic field, where half a score of groups which formed the artistic scene of St Petersburg just a few years ago is replaced by a mere handful of prominent artists as a result of dissociation expected by nobody.
16. Correspondingly, collective responsibility is being replaced by individual responsibility.
17. The disruption of coding and/or decoding leads to the necessity to adapt the aphasic to a hostile, unreadable environment, his psychology becomes transcendental, establishing some outward Controller (God, CIA, KGB, UFO.) The transcendence as such is not coded, for it is isolated from any collective ritual. Thus, it is not art but the psychology of its producers that begins to gain explicit religious features. In this context, it is not surprising that a lot of artists of absolutely different aesthetic inclinations became religious fanatics. One of the former fathers of necrorealism, Andrey Miortvyi has abandoned art, and at present is engaged only in the performance of religious rituals. The wild, well-known St Petersburg performance artist Yury Tsirkul, who always looked like someone with serious mental problems, is now absorbed in the study of treatises on the theory of perspective and research in theology in a monastery on the island of Valaam. Valerii Morozov substituted production of necrosculptures (wooden idols with the distorted face of his long-dead father) for prayers. Vladislav Gutsevich combines magical paintings with a scrupulous examination of the writings of the Fathers of the Church. Many artists turn to religious connotations indirectly: Andrey Khlobystin places his works into the corners and asserts that they acquire an iconic character due to their corner-position; Timur Novikov uses the iconic perspective, typical of old Russian icon painting; Oleg Maslov states that his anthropomorphic figures on pictures are icons; Michael Timofeev uses just a single iconic sign in his practice – that is, the cross; Afrika constructs his installation of 'numb' copper non-representative rebuses resembling the domes of Greek Orthodox cathedrals.
18. Though the reference to some definite source is clear enough in this or that case of artistic practice, asymbolism in the sphere of visual redistribution is evident. Thus, the wooden collages of Timur Novikov, the photo compositions and cinema films of the father of Necrorealism, Evgeny Yufit, the works of Andrey Khlobystin and, naturally, the rebuses and flags of Afrika are perceived by the audience on a pre-semiotic level. All of them are the children of the 'nemovliat' (to make use here of Alexander Potebnia's concept) who are conducive to the suspension of semiosis, that is, to depression.
19. In such an asymbolic situation, there emerges a critical discourse aimed at the affirmation, at the propaganda of a specific visual product. The situation becomes aggravated by critical parasitism or artistic speculations: such was the use of the territorial-historic programme of St Petersburg in the propagation (rather than in the abstracting or development) and legitimisation of Timur Novikov's Idea, which he labels 'Neoacademism'. Religious monoideology establishes the modernistic character of art, while the recoding of visual products into a critical discourse obtains the properties of an obsessive (mis) comprehension.
20. In the sphere of utilisation of the critical discourse, the active factor is what can be called 'Mental Express' by analogy with the 'American Express' system. By the use of a certain code, the writer attaches himself to a specific cultural context, and as far as the languages gets into the variable zone of chronological correlations (guiding and articulating them), it will always belong to the zone of fashion's influence/action. By exploiting the latter, the writer registers himself with a fixed but variable discursive group.
21. The boundaries of the language (=boundaries of the world) remain the same, and within these established limits there is the field of action of reflexed ideograms (already acting on the level of collective reflexes) in their native linguistic paradigm. These ideograms have the absorbed and digested (that is annihilated) elements of other discursive fields. Thus, the matrix of native conscience plays the role of the obligative parasite feeding at the expense of numerous donors (the latter usually perceived by ear as foreign parasites). The epistemological process of interiorisation of knowledge is realised by its transplantation to the existing linguistic patterns. The homogeneity of the linguistic organism survives, and the new alien formations, while preserving the appearance of presence, remain in a rejected and annihilated condition.
22. Differentiation of words and objects results in a complete departure from the objects, nevertheless the abstracting is not complete due to the false preservation of connotations with the objects of description. In this situation of aphasic juggling with concepts, there is no more place for real money – just for cheque books. It means that we are dealing with the second level of abstracting – instead of cash as the equivalent of the goods, we have cheque books as the equivalent of this equivalent. This is not the highest level of abstracting, but the high level of capitalisation which attracts the bearers of discursive-critical intentions. Knowledge of the code brings the capital which turns over in circulatory networks.
23. The exchange of the 'Mental Express' for capitalist goods works in favour of a well-regulated system with no visible sores and the last cavity in the process of healing, where the curse of this organism – the frontiers, murders, war, violence, racial intolerance – is just a specific mechanism of curing. The boils which once covered the body of Karl Marx now reappear as an echo on the skin of our state.
24. It is possible to single out several levels of critical speculation: the first level – the one of subspeculation, extensive agriculture in the, field of thought, when the critics do not use grains-concepts, but a screen which allows them to speculate and to 'play thimble-rig' (a guessing game involving hiding marbles under a thimble). They do not facet the screen but play the role of the thimble into which marbles is driven. The next level of speculation is reached by the principle of the 'Mental Library Express', and the users of the 'Mental Express' are of a relatively high order for they construct a complete abstract system of Hegel's type. The other level – but by no means a higher one – relates to the use of the 'Mental Express' for the formation of schizophrenic chains (described in particular by Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari) in the system of interrelations between the two signs (and not between the sign and the bank-note which is typical of mental-clerks of the lower order – though it is clear that the situation cannot be idealised and that both exchanges can take place simultaneously).
25. In the given situation, the use of the schizophrenia/paranoia opposition must be not only cautious but also critical – not in the last instance due to the fact that the first member of the pair is viewed in the critical discourse as something beneficial, as a dominant in itself, with no emphasis placed either on psychological processes typical of schizophrenia or on paranoid aspects of productivity, but also with no attempts at determining the character of schizophrenia and with no understanding of heterogeneity implicit in schizophrenia as such.
26. Besides, it is necessary to take into consideration the nozological systematics – for example, Melanie Klein – when schizophrenia together with paranoia are in opposition to manic-depressive psychosis which is of the same interest for the researcher of aesthetic processes of psychics.
27. When using the psychopathological discourse, it is also possible to include epilepsy in the same aesthetic paradigm, for epilepsy relates to an idea of the processes of expansion of the central nervous system which take place most explicitly during the formation of the psychosensorial aura. More than that, epilepsy, i.e. the seizure, etymologically relates not only to gnosis but also to the links connecting the activity of the brain (conceptualisation, criticism, speculation) and the hand (production of artefacts, works of art etc), which is divided from the paw by the gulf of speech and thought; therefore the disruption of the activity of the hand must involve certain aphasic processes.
28. Capitalisation in the operating conditions of 'Knowledge is Power' manifests itself as a continuous series of punctures perceived (or not perceived) as the tricks of temptation. Advertising and visual arts in general oversaturate the sphere of images, causing an optical poisoning, especially in a situation of rising interest and no immunity. The tricks of temptation disorient the individual and he decreases the rate of his perception either by addressing the Idea (first of all the Idea of Growth -the Capitalist Idea and the rest of the Big Narratives of Lyotard), or by suspending rather than transcending the semiosis, including it in the depression. Capitalisation of knowledge relates to the desire to increase the speed of coding/decoding which requires continuous introduction of new passwords, hence the object of transcendence gets lost with the result that the depressive state becomes aggravated.
29. This state inherent in the existing socio-economic sphere and its aesthetic counterpart is determined through the 'Loss of the Thing', through Something that escapes labelling, through the longing for something lost, something missing.
30. In his turn, the artist can show the disappearing substance or at least can somehow express this intention in the finalising effect.
31. This intention manifests itself particularly in the obsessive desire to subject the rebus to reading; thus we find ourselves face to face with the processes taking place between so-to-speak conscious (visible and used visually) and unconscious (repulsed) sections of the sphere of visual images. The rebus, like the dream, represents Things and the Puzzle that is the loss and impossibility of finding it. The rebus is rather 'multithingal' than verbose: the reified words situated one under-, over-, before- and after- another constitute an avalanche of words in which we have to discern the missing forms. Some of Afrika's rebuses partly repeat the original' rebuses transferred to the copper printed circuit boards from the album of an anonymous artist of the 1950s or from the 1947 book Targets of Literature, or from an entertaining book for children published in 1948. Thus, there emerges a metarebus: firstly, because it demonstrates the principle of work of all rebuses; secondly because inside it the reuse of a specific system of signs takes place. If the reading of the original' rebus poses some difficulties owing to the conventional rebus symbolics, lexics of the 1950s and the nature of the ideological model of that time, Afrika's metarebus is not amenable to monosemantic reading. His rebuses represent the succession of losses and overlays, the former increasing the latter, while the latter in their turn cause yet more losses. Clarification of essence in Afrika's rebuses is gradual and unpredictable. And it is never complete. Coding and decoding, in distinction to 'real' rebuses, are not interrelated. The solution is not pre-set in the form of a text; and the principle of algebraization of day-to-day speech, some-times brought to the limits of the understandable, is not amenable to decoding, for in the metarebus the essential part of the message can be lost in the process of self-reduplication. What happens is the mutual superpositioning of the codes, as a result of which only the material selection of different non-signified codes can be read. Afrika's rebus is anti-cognition.
32. Reduplication and mutual superpositioning of the sensitive fields are also observed in Afrika's other genre of work – his flags – which represent elements of statehood identification superimposed by sewed-on elements identical at the level of expression (of the material) but symbolising a different cultural code: a different power, the world of micro-organisms, the world of childhood, religion etc. Such sewing-on (superimposition) remodels the flag, resemiotises it and hides/half retrieves the lost. Such a methodology enables Afrika to exist within the 'limits' of the obsessive representation syndrome. The latter was coupled with the dissociation processes taking place in the country and the loss of the former field of signs; as a consequence the artist continues his work but as the inmate of a mental home.
33. The departure into the world of childhood and narcissism takes place in the dark corners of Andrey Khlobystin. The loss of mother provokes the infantile orphan into looking for a substitute. Left in the darkness he plays 'Fort-Da', discarding his skates and skis in the corner, sheltering himself from the world behind a screen on which he builds his mysteriously archaic relationship with animals in which a child under-stands the language of a kitten; framing himself with soft pillows with the regressive portraits of the artist's family members. These 'dusty corners of childhood', large colour slides photographed in the 'real' room corners and placed in the lower and upper corners of the room, demonstrate the work of memory in producing hallucinations and dreams transforming various cross-sections of consciousness.
34. The child left by adults alone in a dark room feels a mystical horror of and interest in life he cannot see. Billions of micro-organisms obtain their/someone else's face; each cell considers itself a person. Paradoxically of the unexpected autonomy becomes Fatherlessness=Lawlessness. The citizens of once one of the most hermetic formations (which had an outlet only into the schizophrenically asthenic upwardness of Open Space – from Closed Space), i.e. the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, become citizens of the universe which equals the loss of citizenship.
35. Which leads to the emergence of artificial fences, screens, translucent surfaces at least partly covering the space of claustrophobia – the screen (for example that of Khlobystin or Afrika).
36. At the moment of change of power – in the interregnum – anthropology or rather anthropo-morphology of power manifests itself most clearly. The individual temporarily released from any new regulations feels keenly the former biological correlation between his body and a specific way of ruling the state. These conditioned and conditioning bonds between metapower and power relations introducing the body particularly into the sphere of sexual relations were demonstrated by Soviet society with great clarity at the beginning and end of its existence.
37. Hand in hand with the destruction of traditional 'power/indi-vidual' relations comes the gradual change of the formally proclaimed relations between the sexes. Strong political and social processes correct sexual deformations and are corrected by them. The bipolar model -aggression/submission, conflict/mutual understanding, identification/de-identification – describing relations between individuals and between man and woman in particular, transcends to the level of relations between nations. For some time, the collective personifies the properties of the individual, though in the crowd all instincts manifest themselves much more strongly including the sexual one. Sexual aggression correlates with social aggression, while the conflict with the ego (alien ego) does so with ethnic conflicts. (The interdependence of aggressive and sexual manifestations of the collective was established in particular by the example of the adjacent habitation of people and a herd of orang-utans, whose sexual cries decreased the aggressiveness of the human group.) The collective is a collective personality, and the laws determining manifestations of the collective's activity are in principle similar to those determining manifestations of the individual's activity, while the social instinct is more important for the development of society than the sexual one.
38. Nevertheless, the sexual instinct remains to a large extent extremely important in the sphere of production of visual images and first of all in the field of ideas related to religion, which can apparently be explained by the essential closeness of religious and sexual matters.
39. Timur Novikov is a specific 'penetrator' into the feminine discourse where he operates in the genre of stories which he cultivates. In these stories he shifts the socially imposed regulations concerning the role of the gender. His favourite story is that of Nadia Leger who transported weapons for the French Resistance during World War II using a pram for the purpose.
40. In the horizontal ecological work Oil spill in the Persian Gulf (white ships floating on a sea of black rubber) Timur Novikov demonstrates the conditional character of spatial opposition. The horizontal in the male/female pair relates to the feminine element, while the vertical has a stable symbolic male meaning. The horizontal is natural and fertile; the horizontal position is fixed in European culture as the symbol of two sacral moments in human life – the moment of copulation (with the earth) and the moment of death. The oeuvre is spread on the floor and can be observed either from above (from the heavens) or from beneath after taking the same horizontal position. In any case, the potential observer experiences the shift in his habitual ideas of the top/bottom, front/rear and horizontal/vertical, included in the general 'male/female' dichotomy. Novikov's strategy, aimed at an escape from rigid sexual identification, manifests itself in the emphatic way he exhibits his works over the bed; the observer has to be satisfied with a passive sexual role regardless of his/her sexual identification.
41. In July 1990, Afrika and the Moscow artist Sergey Anufriev penetrated the door placed at the vaginal opening of the figure of a woman from a collective farm, the female half of the famous sculptural couple A Worker and Woman Member of a Collective Farm by Vera Mukhina. As a result, the door which had secured the entrance into the woman was stolen, to become a pendulum in Afrika's installation Donaldestruction. The initiating magic of this act is clear, for the door covering the vaginal opening is none other than the clitoris. The female member of a collective farm, i.e. the earth, lost her androgyny owing to clitoridectomy, and irreversibly became a woman, while the clitoris separated from her is driven mechanically up and down against a background of ideological altars of the two superpowers – America and the USSR. (In Dogon mythology, the clitoris hindered the first copulation of the god Amma with the woman, Earth, created by him. It was a termite hill which rose at the approach of the god, thus demonstrating its masculine strength and blocking the entrance into the womb, i.e., the termite nest. Therefore, Amma cut off the termite hill and had sexual intercourse with Earth.) Afrika completed sexual identification of the Collective Farm Member-Woman-Earth and even Russia, who consequently produced an 'agent', or strictly speaking the agent 'fell out' of Her. Hence the immensely long clitoris of the two Arnemland sister-primogenitors which dragged about the ground and hindered the exit from their permanently pregnant wombs, keeping the babies inside. The agent is unsexed in principle; his sex is neither male nor female. Devoid of her masculine power, Russia can no longer keep the 'agent' and 'drops' him into the world as seeds are dropped in the field.
42. The basic character of ideology and the agent-hermetic character of representation of this ideology ('Secret Cult') in the sphere of redistribution of images forms and formulates the proto-antique and neo-classical intentions of Timur Novikov. The declared departure from contemporary aesthetic 'achievements' – according to the Idea -introduces Novikov's art into the action zone of Post-Modernism's parameters; but at the same time this art (or to be more precise the very idea of this neo-academic art) takes his problematics away from a time of rewriting to a time outside time, to the religious-modernistic dogmas of eternity, to the termination of capitalist growth, to ennui and melancholy in the face of the approaching Ideal which cannot be approached.
43. The reanimator of the 'Secret Cult' (antiquity and the plot in the dominance of the avant-garde) in the new 'reformed' ('reanimated') St Petersburg, Novikov has produced a series of works on textiles and photo-collages: The Life and Amazing Adventures of Oscar Wilde. In accordance with the oriental tastes of the hero and his love of the Hellenic-Roman world, the artist has placed him on silk fields of Chinese shawls embroidered with flowers and landscapes, adorned with Roman sculptures and ancient ruins. Thus, The Trial of Oscar Wilde takes place in a theatre full of classical reliefs. And the protagonist of his drama, Salome, personifying one of the Danaides, is positioned within the Chinese landscape holding the head of Wilde, placed in a bottomless vessel. Each work is a narrative, its narrativity relating to the content of original images. Both technologically and thematically, Novikov's works follow the oldest principle of multi-layer narrative. The figure of Oscar Wilde appears not only in connection with a definite psycho-sexual orientation (as is always the first thing to be noticed), but also because of the transplanting of the critic from the field of description into that of production of works of art (art proper), which is of equal importance, particularly for the ideologist Novikov, who has brought off this coup.
44. The dead body is desexualised and deideologised.
45. This assumption proves true – is it possible? – from the point of view of the dead body itself: it is situated outside ideology, though this does not mean that ideology has no interest – including a sexual one – in the dead. The dead body can provoke not only religio-erotic ecstasy, but can also be the sacral centre of cosmic ideology.
46. Devoid of man (conscience), the man (his alien ego) is 'placed' at the base of the aesthetics of Necrorealism, the diversified artistic movement which is represented – after the dissociation of the collective body – by the individual practice of three artists: Evgeny Yufit, Vladimir Kustov and Sergey Serp. In the art of Necrorealism – inculcating, hiding the bad/good form of representation – there is no figure of Death, while the Case of Death allures the artist to the utmost extent.
47. The allurement by Death is especially 'successfully' carried out in St.-Petersburg, the city of apocalyptic prophecies, suicides, art, mental patients and dead beauty.
48. The pact with the alluring subject results neither in necrophilia nor in necrophobia. Necrorealism is the wish to avoid both the former and the latter while rejecting the symbolic perusal of reality (depiction of death in the epoch of the Renaissance) including the reality of death (the death of death through the ellipse of art).
49. Death is determined by its relation with consciousness not as loss in the pass but as loss from the future, while the lost, that is the former (once alive, out-lived) Thing (its 'substitute' is Freud's coil or a work of art) constitutes – at the border of consciousness – the state of melancholy and 'unmotivated' depression, the reason for which is not realised, the state followed by the desensitisation (of the sense) of life and the feeling of the imminent arrival of death.
50. One of the postulates of Necrorealism's aesthetics (especially typical of its early period, when lots of artists took part in the movement) is the demonstration of unmotivated actions, the regression of which from the realm of consciousness is aimed at approaching the Loss, the Thing, the Body. The dissatisfaction of Homo Sapiens with Necrorealism leads to the conscious quest, conscious depiction of the non (sub) -human: anthropomorphic forms are changed for zoomorphic, posthumous transformations of the body become visual. Thus Necrorealism turns from man to un-man, to the alter ego of man as such – to (his) animal, (his) cadaver, (his) body.
51. The art of Necrorealism (the very concept points to the reconciliation of the dead with living matters) is presented as art par excellence, for it establishes two-way communication with the bygone: firstly, as art always symbolising and doubling reality (external/internal) and closing the gap between the subject and its environment; and secondly, as art which has chosen the dead body as a subject of narration (the dead body represents, in fact, the identity of singular subjectiveness). Such a doubling of the double (of death/art) can be considered a mechanism for the departure from a state of depression 'activated' by the loss of the lost subject.
52. The departure from 'normal' functioning of the human being into the Kingdom of the Dead, the Kingdom of the Lunatics, the Kingdom of the Animals and the Kingdom of Mushrooms results in the disorganisation of order, in reorganising the latter into a new disorder, which, as if in contradiction to what has been said, turns out to be the fundamental characteristic of man who spends most of his life sleeping. Also it happens because of the encroachment of disorder caused by dreams, and by dreams invading life. And the ritual of art regressing to magic, which envelops – often outside the field of production of objects for visual consumption – the activity of St Petersburg artists, manifests the reaction to disorder.
53. Because everybody remembers the Russian saying: 'Great orders entail great disorder'.
St Petersburg, December 1993
In: Post-Soviet Art and Architecture. Edited by Alexey Yurasovsky and Sophie Oveden. London: Academy Editions, London. – pp. 81-93.